Medical translation is an important area of interpreting and translating and an area where interpreters have no room for error. In a post on the NPRblog today, they discussed some real life and heart breaking consequences of what can go wrong when there is an ‘ad hoc’ interpreter – such as a member of the family or a friend.
“A study by the American College of Emergency Physicians in 2012 analyzed interpreter errors that had clinical consequences, and found that the error rate was significantly lower for professional interpreters than for ad hoc interpreters — 12 percent as opposed to 22 percent. And for professionals with more than 100 hours of training, errors dropped to 2 percent.” [source]
They mentioned the case of baseball player Will Ramirez, who one being brought into hospital, his family used the word ‘intoxicado’ – which although it sound like intoxicated – really translates as that he had ingested something, but this could have been anything from food to drugs, anything that is ingested that made you unwell.
Medical translation also comes into play in the written word, and another example also from the Spanish language is that ‘once’ in Spanish means eleven! So if something must be taken once a day, it’s crucial this is professionally translated to ensure a patient takes one table, and not eleven.